The February Revolution in Russia (1917): Soldiers and workmen in possession of the Duma


300 dpi scanned printable image, PDF file, 50 x 31,6 cm. / 5907 x 3728 pixels.

from the double page sepia photograph of “The Graphic”, No. 2474, Vol XCV. April 28, 1917, page 492-493.




The February Revolution, known in Soviet historiography as the February Bourgeois Democratic Revolution was the first of two Russian revolutions in 1917.

The revolution centered on Petrograd (now known as St. Petersburg), then the Russian capital, where longstanding discontent with the monarchy erupted into mass protests against food rationing on 8 March (23 February in the Julian calendar). Revolutionary activity was largely confined to the capital and its vicinity, and lasted about eight days. It involved mass demonstrations and armed clashes with police and gendarmes, the last loyal forces of the Russian monarchy. On 12 March (27 February old style) mutinous Russian Army forces sided with the revolutionaries. Three days later the result was the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, the end of the Romanov dynasty, and the end of the Russian Empire. Russian Council of Ministers was replaced by a Russian Provisional Government under Prince Georgy Lvov.

The revolution appeared to break out spontaneously, without any real leadership or formal planning.[citation needed] Russia had been suffering from a number of economic and social problems, which were compounded by the impact of World War I. Bread rioters primarily women in bread lines, and industrial strikers were joined on the streets by disaffected soldiers from the city’s garrison. As more and more troops deserted, and with loyal troops away at the Front, the city fell into chaos, leading to the overthrow of the Tsar. In all, over 1,300 people were killed in the protests of February 1917.

A duma (дума) is a Russian assembly with advisory or legislative functions. The term comes from the Russian verb думать (dumat’) meaning “to think” or “to consider”. The first formally constituted duma was the State Duma introduced into the Russian Empire by Tsar Nicholas II in 1906. It was dissolved in 1917 during the Russian Revolution. Since 1993, the State Duma is the lower legislative house of the Russian Federation.

The Graphic was a British weekly illustrated newspaper, first published on 4 December 1869 by William Luson Thomas’s company Illustrated Newspapers Limited.

The influence of The Graphic within the art world was immense, its many admirers included Vincent Van Gogh, and Hubert von Herkomer.

It continued to be published weekly under this title until 23 April 1932 and then changed title to The National Graphic between 28 April and 14 July 1932; it then ceased publication after 3,266 issues. From 1889 Luson Thomas’s company, H. R. Baines and Co. published The Daily Graphic.

The Graphic was founded by William Luson Thomas, a successful artist, wood engraver and social reformer. Earlier he, his brother and his brother-in-law had been persuaded to go to New York and assist in launching two newspapers, Picture Gallery and Republic. Thomas also had an engraving establishment of his own and, aided by a large staff, illustrated and engraved numerous standard works. Exasperated, even angered, by the unsympathetic treatment of artists by the world’s most successful illustrated paper, The Illustrated London News, and having a good business sense Luson Thomas resolved to set up an opposition. His illustrated paper, despite being more expensive that its competition, became an immediate success.

When it began in 1869, the newspaper was printed in a rented house. By 1882, the company owned three buildings and twenty printing presses, and employed more than 1,000 people. The first editor was Henry Sutherland Edwards. A successful artist himself, founder Thomas recruited gifted artists including Luke Fildes, Hubert von Herkomer, Frank Holl, and John Millais.

The Graphic was published on a Saturday and its original cover price was sixpence, while the Illustrated London News was fivepence. In its first year, it described itself to advertisers as “a superior illustrated weekly newspaper, containing twenty-four pages imperial folio, printed on fine toned paper of beautiful quality, made expressly for the purpose and admirably adapted for the display of engravings”.

In addition to its home market the paper had subscribers all around the British Empire and North America. The Graphic covered home news and news from around the Empire, and devoted much attention to literature, arts, sciences, the fashionable world, sport, music and opera. Royal occasions and national celebrations and ceremonials were also given prominent coverage.

Artists employed on The Graphic and The Daily Graphic at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century included Helen Allingham, Edmund Blampied, Alexander Boyd, Frank Brangwyn, Randolph Caldecott, John Charles Dollman, James H. Dowd, Luke Fildes, Harry Furniss, John Percival Gülich, George du Maurier, Phil May, Ernest Prater, Leonard Raven-Hill, Sidney Sime, Snaffles (Charles Johnson Payne), George Stampa, Edmund Sullivan, Bert Thomas, F. H. Townsend, Harrison Weir, and Henry Woods.

Writers for the paper included George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, H. Rider Haggard and Anthony Trollope. Malcolm Charles Salaman was employed there from 1890 to 1899. Beatrice Grimshaw travelled the South Pacific reporting on her experiences for the Daily Graphic. Mary Frances Billington served the Graphic as a special correspondent from 1890 to 1897, reporting from India in essays that were compiled into Woman in India (1895).

Sources: Wikipedia

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